Hodge, Ross fifties set up Strikers win
Adelaide Strikers 5 for 187 (Ross 65, Hodge 56*, Boland 2-55) beat Melbourne Stars 7 for 168 (Stoinis 50, Richardson 3-22) by 19 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A record partnership between Brad Hodge and Alex Ross ensured Adelaide Strikers' coach Jason Gillespie enjoyed a fairy-tale homecoming. The pair complemented each other perfectly during a record BBL fifth-wicket stand of 115 to punctuate Striker's 19-run win over the fancied Melbourne Stars at the Adelaide Oval.
Defending 187, Strikers overcame a nervous start in the field to restrict the power-packed Stars batting line-up to 7 for 168. Assisted by a pitch offering turn, English import Adil Rashid menaced with figures of 2 for 27, including the prized scalp of Glenn Maxwell who threatened to seal the deal for the Stars.
Strikers fluffed as many as five chances early in the chase, most notably Craig Simmons' dropped sitter at first slip when Marcus Stoinis was on 2, but they recovered to grasp the initiative. The bowling attack stepped up to curb Stars' batting line-up with discipline highlighted by the visitor's inability to hit a six until the 14th over.
Stars seemed on track to overhaul the target when they reached 1 for 90 after 11 overs, but Ben Laughlin changed the complexion of the match, taking the key wickets of Stoinis and Kevin Pietersen in the next over. Apart from a brief whirlwind partnership between Maxwell and captain David Hussey, the total appeared beyond Stars.
Amid sweltering conditions where temperatures hovered at 38 degrees when the match started, Hodge and Ross starred and rescued Strikers from early trouble, after being sent in by Hussey.
When Travis Head (16) fell to a questionable caught-behind decision, despite replays showing the ball appearing to land in front of wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb, Strikers slumped to 4 for 64 in the 10th over, and were in serious peril of posting a competitive total on a flat pitch.
Hodge, the Strikers' new captain, showcased his experience and composure during a stabilising period of batting where he was content in rotating the strike with clever singles. Juxtaposing this was Ross' audacious batting complete with a plethora of bold sweep shots, which accounted for two of his three sixes in the innings.
Fittingly, Ross notched his maiden BBL half century, off just 25 balls, when he swept pacer Scott Boland for a massive six. Boland then got his revenge by trapping Ross lbw in the last over of the innings, but the damage had been done.
Showcasing his class, Hodge timed his innings to perfection scoring 29 off as many balls before accelerating towards the end to finish unbeaten on 56 from 41 deliveries. The Strikers plundered 67 runs in the final four overs.
The Hodge and Ross brilliance came after Strikers' top order had failed to fire, despite a tease from openers Craig Simmons and Tim Ludeman, who hit two sixes each. However, they were unable to produce scores of substance. Mahela Jayawardene, a replacement into the Strikers' squad for the injured Kieron Pollard, seemed likely to try to bat throughout the innings but looked out of touch. Jayawardene was dropped by Handscomb before he had scored, but soon perished attempting a rash slash off James Faulkner, who was the pick of the Stars' bowlers finishing with 1 for 21.
It eventually turned out to be a satisfying start for the Strikers' new leadership combination of Gillespie and Hodge.